Feb 15, 2021

Product Manager's Backlog Grooming Checklist

This checklist is for one of my most important tasks as a product manager: grooming the backlog. I use the checklist to go through the list of tickets and keep the backlog short, up-to-date and prioritized.

Checking existing tickets

Check every ticket in your backlog and ask these questions to keep your backlog clean and actionable (in descending priority):

  • Is ticket actually an idea that is not actionable yet? -> Yes? Move to Roadmap
  • Is ticket within sprint horizont? -> No? Delete OR Move to Roadmap
  • Is ticket only a title? -> Yes? Refine OR Delete
  • Is ticket in no epic or theme? -> Yes? Create epic or theme
  • Is ticket's priority right? -> Put most important on top, least important on bottom

Prerequisites

You need to take two decisions to follow my checklist:

  • Roadmap and idea hub: Where do ideas go, so you can prioritize and discuss them with Stakeholders? I use Trello for that.
  • Sprint horizon: What's the timeframe you want to plan tickets for in the backlog? The recommended length is three to four sprints before and after the current one. I use 3 sprints. It means: No ticket should be older than 3 sprints ago and not planned for more than 3 sprints ahead. I call too old tickets "Sprint Amnesia" as you did not pick up the ticket for 3 sprints. If you plan ahead for longer than your future sprint horizon, you're doing "Sprint Fortune Telling" - in an agile environment it's not recommended planning that far ahead. Ideation happens in your roadmap tool, not in your backlog.

Categories: Product